The footballer's driver was also exposed to carbon monoxide, which could have impaired his ability to fly the aircraft.

Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala and his pilot, both dead in January in the crash of their plane, were probably exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide, British investigators said Wednesday.

A "potentially fatal" rate

"Toxicological tests revealed that the passenger had a high saturation level of COHb (a product combining carbon monoxide and hemoglobin)," the British Air Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) said in a special bulletin. . According to the tests, Sala had a carboxyhemoglobin saturation (COHb) level of 58%. "A COHb level of 50% or more in an otherwise healthy individual is generally considered potentially fatal," says the AAIB.

"It is considered likely that the pilot would also have been exposed to carbon monoxide," the statement added. Exposure to gases can damage the brain and the nervous system. Unconsciousness and heart attacks are possible with COHb levels above 50%. "It is clear from the symptoms that CO exposure can reduce or inhibit a pilot's ability to fly an airplane based on the level of exposure," says the AAIB.

An exhibition related to the type of aircraft

According to the AAIB, carbon monoxide poisoning poses a particular risk to the type of aircraft in which the two men traveled. "Piston-engine aircraft produce high concentrations of carbon monoxide that are sent out of the aircraft by the exhaust system," the investigators said. "Improper cabin sealing or leaks in exhaust gas heating and ventilation systems can allow carbon monoxide to enter the cabin" and into the cockpit.

Sala and his driver, David Ibbotson, crashed on 21 January as the FC Nantes striker rejoined the Cardiff club where he had been transferred. The body of the 28-year-old footballer was found in the body of the aircraft, more than two weeks after the accident, 67 meters deep. The pilot's body was not found.